Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'
Mostly I use Wikipedia for details on out-of-the-way topics that you wouldn’t think would be subject to bias—lately it has been to corroborate some background on Voltaire, for instance.
But not always—sometimes I use it as though a base stock, like you would in cooking, to develop a post on some contemporary issue. Others do this, too—pretty routinely—to provide backdrop for arguments they are making. People will develop points on some Internet forum or other, and validate them by appealing to Wikipedia.
It’s an encyclopedia, Wikipedia is—that’s how everyone thinks of it. As such, it is unbiased—that supposedly is its mission statement. Anyone can edit it (I’ve never quite understood how that works—well, I guess I do, but I’ve never been interested enough to attempt it, and the premise is that when anyone can do so the result will be complete and unbiased.) Not so, says co-founder Larry Sanger. Its unbiased ideal went out the window long ago. NPOV (neutral point of view) is a thing of the past. He says it here, on this post from his own blog. Wikipedia is badly biased.
He doesn’t say his co-creation is not factual. Nor does he say it is not objective. But it is not complete. It clearly sides with particular points-of-view. Larry offers about a dozen examples of clear bias, from politics, to science, to health, to religion in which the minority view is run off the road. They are “embarrassingly easy to find,” he says.
Sigh...this seriously compromises Wikipedia as a base. It is a leftist choir that is preaching there these days, and if you quote the source, which I do all the time, you will be getting a leftist point of view, with other viewpoints either overwhelmed or declared wrong. Disputes among experts such as doctors and scientists are papered over to give the impression that the “victorious” opinion is monolithic. It is not for an encyclopedia to do this, Sanger says. It is supposed to reflect all points of view. It is not to declare a winner. Is “the science settled” on some point or other? Understand that it may have been settled by decree.
One might suppose, given Sanger’s creation, that technology is his chief interest. It is not. (per Wikipedia!) It is philosophy, epistomology, and ethics. He is clearly disappointed in the path his innovation has taken. He didn’t mean it to be that way. In a world supposedly driven by knowledge, what could be better than to have all the details of anything at your fingertips for instant application to anything? He never anticipated that it would be hijacked by any one faction.
Maybe I should have picked up on this before—Wiki’s bias. I did, after all, quote Anton Chivchalov complaining* of how the Russian experts relied upon by courts of that land have been known to copy “various public sources about Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Internet, which naturally have an anti-cult bias.” Could Wikipedia have been the prime “public source?” There are a dizzying array of anti-cult Witness pages on that source—every petty little episode or imagined brouhaha is explored in minute detail, with “pro” views drowned out by the “cons.”
Recently, a few dozen scholars released a statement to Russian authorities in support of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Stop the police action against them, they said. They are obviously peaceful, so let them worship in peace. Putin said a year and a half after the ban that “Jehovah’s Witnesses are also Christians, and I don’t really understand why they’re persecuted.” Just a few months after the ban, he publicly praised a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Noviks from Petrozavodsk, calling them a “model family”—apparently without knowing what page he was supposed to be on. Leave the Witnesses be. “We are left with the impression that Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia are being punished for their success in gaining new adherents,” the statement from the scholars said.
This is a bit much for the anti-cultists. Is it possible to assassinate the characters of these “scholars”—all associated with prestigious universities from around the world—so as to present them as crackpots? Some of them have been interviewed by jw.org—Christine King, George Chryssides, and Massimo Introvigne, for example.
Enter Wikipedia with its “anti-cult bias.” It tackles Massimo Introvigne.
There (born June 14, 1955, in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religion and intellectual property attorney. He is a founder and the managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), a Turin-based organization which has been described as "the highest profile lobbying and information group for controversial religions". .................In 1972, he joined conservative Catholic group Alleanza Cattolica.[better source needed] From 2008 to 2016 he has served as vice-president of the group................. he advocates doctrinaire positions that favour groups like Scientology." In the mid-1990s, Introvigne testified on behalf of Scientologists in a criminal trial in Lyon.................journalists described Introvigne as a "cult apologist", saying he was tied to the Catholic Alliance and Silvio Berlusconi's then ruling party. Introvigne responded that his scholarly and political activities were not connected................He was the Italian director of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula,............In 1997, J. Gordon Melton and Introvigne organized an event at the Westin Hotel in Los Angeles where 1,500 attendees came dressed as vampires...
Note the guilt by association. This is never okay with the anti-cultists until they do it themselves. He “advocates doctrinaire positions that favour groups like Scientology.” He has even testified on behalf of them. He is a “cult apologist.” (the less incendiary term, rejected by anti-cultists for just that reason, is “new religion.”) He hung out with Silvia Berlusconi, the businessman who committed the unforgivable sin of getting elected though not a politician and showing up that lot. And didn’t he draw a four year sentence for tax fraud? Introvigne responds by saying his scholarly and political activities are not connected, and—wink, wink—we know what that means. He threw a gathering in which guests came dressed as vampires! [a Halloween party, probably]
To be sure, the Introvigne entry (accessed 10/11/20) comes with a couple of “hatchet job” warnings, though not called that. “A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject,” therefore the article “may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia's content policies.” Also, it “may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject potentially preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral.” Seeming a note of caution. But if co-founder Sanger’s observation is anything to go by, it is only in need a few like-minded hacks to jump into the fray and repeat the bad opinion.
Certain hot topics continually go back and forth on Wiki. One fellow commented on my blog to the effect that he regularly updated Wiki posts about JWs to keep them “honest”, and he had to do it constantly because opposers would change them right back to their hostile takes on matters. I got the impression that that was his assignment, but I could be wrong—he may just have been an independent defender of the faith. At any rate, he was worried lest I immerse myself into these things too much and that it wear me out, because among these critics are so many slimeballs. But as it turns out, I don’t immerse myself.
“Go to the Reddit site and read up on” whatever volatile accusation had caught Vic Vomodog’s fancy at the moment, he told me, adding “make sure to read all the comments.” But I truthfully replied that I had visited there from time to time—I even have a presence there (that I have tired of)—r/truetomharley, and I tell them to make sure to read all of my comments, and they tell me to...well...they decline my invitation.
But that’s reading. I have read some of their comments—I read a lot, to be sure. But to this day, I don’t think I have ever seen a complete video production, mostly because they are so self-important or tedious or hostile that the first minute is a turnoff—rarely do I get beyond a minute. It is my own bias—one can read in a minute what some smug and insufferable pedant will take 20 to develop via video.
Wikipedia has its place, but it has long fallen from its unbiased perch. Maybe the best way to appreciate its silly underbelly, which threatens to become the main event, is to look up some historical figure and discover a handful of paragraphs. And then look up a television series and see every single episode written up in endless detail, sometimes each meriting it’s own page. Just how much of Mr. Ed does one need to know?
Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'
I visited religionnews.com and found that my religion does not exist. Jehovah’s Witnesses are nowhere listed in their tree of faiths. Everyone else is. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not. Can it be? RNS “strive[s] to inform, illuminate and inspire public discourse on matters relating to belief and convictions,” says their About page. So where are Jehovah’s Witnesses? Few religions have been in the news as much as they, especially with their recent ban in Russia. Is Religion News Service a Russian site? No. Is it their aim to suck up to the Russians? I don’t think so. So where are the Witnesses?
The reason that there is not a Jeopardy clue: “They visit door to door to speak about the Bible” is that the answer is too obvious and would stump no one. In some ways Witnesses are plainly the foremost of religions. “And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14), for example. Nobody is known for taking the ‘good news of the Kingdom’ to each and every person like Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially before ‘the end will come.’ Here is a cartoon of how JWs found Osama Bin Laden:
Or what about the verse, ‘beating their swords into plowshares.’ (Isaiah 2:4) It is an inspirational slogan for all. The ones who actually DO it are Jehovah’s Witnesses. They may be the only ones to completely do it, in that, not only will they not participate in wars, but they will not perform civilian work that is clearly designed to support war efforts.
Yet, look through the comprehensive list at the bottom of the religionnews.com website—they do not appear.
The first place you check, of course, is Christianity. There you find four subdivisions: Catholics, Latter Day Saints, Orthodox, and Protestants. If they are in any of the four, it must be Protestants. There you find three subdivisions: Black Protestants, Evangelical, and Mainline. Well, they’re not the first or the third. Since they preach the good news of the Kingdom, could they be the second? Nope. Scroll through the stories in that category. You won’t find them.
Okay, got it. They are not counted as Christian because RNS assumes that one must believe in the Trinity to be Christian—many times we’ve run across this. It makes no sense, but there it is. Most verses used to advance the Trinity teaching are verses that, if they were seen in any other context, would be instantly dismissed as figure of speech. There is no verse that directly states the Trinity, and the one in the King James Version that does (1 John 5:7) has been recognized by all modern scholars as a spurious insertion and thus either removed or footnoted. One almost pictures a scribe reviewing scriptures, getting madder and madder that his favorite doctrine is no where to be found, and slipping it in when no one was looking.
Where else might Jehovah’s Witnesses be if not in the Christian category? Well, maybe the Alternative Faiths category, or the Other Faiths category. Nope. Scroll through the stories on either category. They do not appear.
Is it an oversight? Is it a snub? Is it avoidance because any story about Jehovah’s Witnesses will reliably attract swarms of their virulent ‘apostates’ alarmed at any favorable mention and insistent upon maligning their former faith and so RNS just doesn’t want to deal with it? (See TrueTom vs the Apostates) Dunno. But is certainly is strange.
Now, to be sure, if you enter Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Search box, a few items appear—not many, but a few. One of them is not Even JW per se, but is of someone who wrote a book on how to refute them, along with the Mormons, latching on to key scriptures cites and how to answer back. Bring it on, I say. Any Witness worth his or her salt knows how to answer such things. So there is someone there at RNS that knows that if your textbook is the Bible, if you teach from it, if you have even invented an entirely new non-commercial distribution channel and translated it into overlooked languages of developing countries so that common persons there are not stuck with some 200-year old turkey of a translation that they can neither understand nor afford, you must be a religion. Still, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not listed in the list that includes everyone else.
Do not think that the JW organization will be miffed at not being included in the list. They may even draw satisfaction from it. “Good. Here is a list of the religions ‘of the world’ and we are not on it,” they may say. If there is one verse they take seriously over there at JW HQ, it is John 17:16, where Jesus prays about his followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”
For that reason I will not go to the RNS site and holler, “Hey!—what is it with you clowns?!” The site is an offspring of the Missouri School of Journalism. It speaks of the ‘academic experts’ that monitor all. I don’t want to tangle with experts. Maybe they will try to pull rank on that basis. Who knows? Maybe they are right. Maybe I am not part of a religion, even if I do speak of the Bible door to door and keep the peace.
Imagine: In a list of “the religions of the world,” JWs are not on it. If you were to ask Bethel to describe their faith, very quickly would come up that statement that true Christians “are no part of the world.” Make of it what you will. I don’t make anything of it. I just note it.
.... Sigh....One person upbraided me for not contacting RNS and finding out why they had dropped us.
Said I: “In this case the answer is not particularly important, nor interesting. The situation prompting the question is what arouses interest. Here is a list of religions ‘of the world.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are ‘no part of the world’ are not on it. Who cares why? I don’t.
“Even so, I did mention three possibilities:
“Is it an oversight? Is it a snub? Is it avoidance because any story about Jehovah's Witnesses will reliably attract swarms of their virulent "apostates' alarmed at any favorable mention and insistent upon maligning their former faith and so RNS just doesn't want to deal with it?”
“Which one of the three it is doesn’t interest me. It is like when the Die Hard villain finally dies himself, after two hours of mayhem, and you learn in the epilogue that he was also behind in his contributions to the United Way. Who cares?”
Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'
What! Do you think I’m kidding? Yes, of course I’m going to link to it. It’s unbelievable.
Covert says: “Hey guys, please read the correction below. Really sorry this slipped through, and we’ll tighten our process to make sure we don’t repeat it. Again, apologies everyone.
Well….probably no big deal, and after all, he did apologize. Let’s see what this is all about. His friend Lloyd says of his previous ‘report’:
“Thanks so much for the kind comments. We really enjoyed putting this episode together and I’m glad many of you seem to be finding it helpful and informative. Unfortunately, I need to offer an apology and a retraction. A trusted source passed on information to us that got included in the show notes but later proved to be incorrect. Specifically, the schedule of talks from which I was reading (including themes having to do with reduction and ‘centralization’ of branches) was apparently written by an ex-JW and was purely speculative and/or intended for satire [ed…it was a lie] Though we can see the funny side, we also take the accuracy and truthfulness of our work extremely seriously so I have edited out the relevant parts (edits may take a while to process and we are taking a close look at how we can more thoroughly vet our sources in the future. I can only apologize to the thousands of you who have already heard the incorrect information. The last thing we want to do is remotely contribute to affirming the “lying apostate” stereotype by passing on spurious information and we will certainly learn our lesson here. Thank you for your understanding on this.”
Of course! I understood perfectly, and I instantly dismissed it all as ‘just one of those things.’ I did this even though it was the apostate lie ‘heard around the world’ and if you had tapped their phones and been listening in to some of them, you would have thought they were having sex in there, so loud were the orgasms. What was causing the ‘reduction and centralization of branches,’ according to the retracted report, was the fantastic news that the Watchtower was on the ropes financially and just a few more successful lawsuits would topple them for good. This is the stated goal of many of them, to litigate their former religious organization out of existence, and this glorious bit of ‘news’ was more welcome to them than if their team had, not only won the Super Bowl, but had been conceded the championship for the next hundred years.
However, Lloyd is so responsible. He says he does not “remotely want to contribute to the ‘lying apostate’ stereotype,” as though he is genuinely amazed that anybody could ever think such a thing, but just to be sure, he will take action to eliminate this mother of all lies that he swallowed hook, line, and sinker because he liked the sound of, and not repeat it again. I hope you understand. After all, it was from a “trusted source.”
Look, if they ever succeeded in their stated goal of litigating the Watchtower out of existence, they would be proving themselves friends of child sexual abuse. There is good reason to think that Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy considerable success in preventing it within their ranks, though with InvisibleChildren.org reporting that one out of five American children will be suffer molestation before 18, they clearly are not going to ever snuff it out. If they have enjoyed some success, then spread around whatever they have, and others will enjoy some success. It is not rocket science. It is not even ‘God’s spirit.’ If you hammer away at anything long enough, some of it sinks in. Relentlessly they teach family values over there in Witness-land, and they are the only organization on earth to have gathered each and every member via their 2017 summer convention and there consider detailed scenarios in which child abuse might occur, so that parents, the obvious first line of defense, can be vigilant. Moreover, since so much child sexual abuse occurs in settings of youth groups, surely it helps that they have no such segregation They don’t even do Sunday School.
You know, I don’t really question Lloyd’s sincerity in ferreting out an obvious lie, but I guarantee that he led the way with wet dreams when he heard that his former religion was on the ropes. Moreover, it improves matters only to a slight degree on his forum to take the blatant lie out, for the rest of it abounds with distortions of truth. They are often distortions hard-to-spot in a world gone increasingly atheistic. That is why I have declared him (for now) my #1 opponent and have written posts undercutting the hate that he spreads. For example, there is this article about women in abusive relationships. Is this hard on me? Well…you know the expression that a writer needs a muse? He also needs a villain.
Lloyd is dumbfounded at the moniker ‘lying apostate.’ How could anyone think that? He is also offended should anyone connect him with the atrocities against religious people in Russia, my own first of all, they alone are under ban and declared extremists, a label they share only with ISIS. No! He will not be accused. Why, he has spoken out against it. But of his anti-cultist-in-spirit, one Alexander Dvorkin, who aggressively pushes there just what he pushes here and is affiliated with anti-cultists in France, a human-rights expert has stated: “He enjoys disseminating inflammatory narratives and hate speech.” It is no different with Lloyd and his buddies. When you spew hate speech, eventually there arise people who act upon it. And what will he say then?
‘Hey guys, just want to let you know that we released the hounds of hell and they did more damage than we ever intended. Sorry.’
From a certain person who hates Jehovah's Witness, a former Witness himself:
“So you've found a reporter that serves the Org well. Good for you. BUT it will never make the facts different. So where did your Ms Chuck get her information from, a JW I presume."
I replied, “John, she did no more than reports facts and only facts. She is not 'one of ours.' I don't even think she likes us. But she sets an excellent example of responsible journalism with this article. If all in the news media were like her, the profession would not find itself on the very bottom of the 'public trust list,' right down there with slimy politicians and glib used-car salesmen.”
This is key to a good reporter. If she does not like us, and further research indicates she may well not, she shows no sign of it in her article. Many reporters seethe with their own personal feelings, betraying their clear agenda.
I may not like everything that comes from her pen. I certainly didn't like the one that I praised her for. it was bad news for my side. But it was honest, reporting, that's all I said about it. If everything else she writes is like that, perhaps she will one day be the savior of the media.
In fact, how this character John could write, or even think, that Ms. Chuck 'serves the Org well,' I'll never know. She says they have to fork over huge dough. How's that for 'serving' them? The people that hate Jehovah's Witnesses REALLY hate them and they come all unglued whenever a reporter falls short of assassination attempt.
Okay, I was not going to show the remark itself, but now I will. Chuckles (who I don't think is my friend, not at all) deserves it. As for John, he absolutely froths over the Witness' organizational arrangement. He has a screw loose, imo, relentlessly charging that Witnesses are the extremists of extremists. Yet there are many like him. On a separate thread (same forum) I said:
"Recently I read a report of women who had been kidnapped by ISIS. They had been exhibited in cages, driven about in the back of trucks, raped any number of times at will by multiple men , burned with cigarette butts when they resisted. THESE are the people John’s lying new friends try to equate Witnesses with? C’mon! Even Admin will cease to think this an unseemly squabble between co-religionists and recognize it for what it is: Decent people that may not be his cup of tea, though decent nonetheless, under attack from the despicable.
"John does have one genuine circumstance that, in some measure, excuses his unhinged hatred. He has written, here or on another thread, of a truly horrific childhood involving sexual abuse. It had nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses, a faith he discovered much later. But it appears to have seared him permanently. To that extent, I can sympathize with him."
He screamed at me, for this one, too, but it is nothing he had not revealed himself openly. To that extent, I admire him, for spilling such history is not a piece of cake. I may even be doing him a favor, republicizing his announcement that he came right out with about being a victim of child sexual abuse. It is common for abuse victims to feel, deep down inside, even if they actually know it was not so, that it is their fault. By letting him work out his rage online, which is tiresome and shows no signs of abating, perhaps he can better make peace with his tragic past.
The reference to Mr. Admin is because he atypically chimed in to rebuke us all for carrying on the way we were. Think of when your dad used to whirl around in the car and yell, "If you kids don't stop crying back there I'm going to stop this car and give you something to cry about!" With that, I whirled upon him. If we want to ruin his website, what's that to him? Afterwards, though, I did apologize, for after all, he is our host, even if he wonders at the fate that made him so, and he does put up with a lot of fruitcakes. They drive traffic to his site, but even so...
Now that we have dragged Mr. Admin into the picture, who may have a penchant for privacy, for we seldom hear from him, let us really drag him in. In response to someone wanting early morning comment from him, I chimed in:
It is too early for @admin. He gets up late and then has to putz around for some time before checking the mail. I’ll answer for him. As Monk says, he’ll thank me later.
Somewhat reluctantly, he finds himself hosting a religious JW forum, though he is not that way himself. No JWs on it are typical JWs because if they were typical they would be more acquiescent to their organization’s preference they not take part in such forums. One important reason their organization prefers that they abstain is the undignified mess that results when they do not.
For a variety of reasons, some Witnesses go there anyway, and, to be sure, there are parts of the forum largely innocuous. I avoid these parts and go right to the hot areas. It has helped me hone my writing, and about half of my ebook, Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, can be found in about 500 fragments scattered throughout. Mr. Admin is thereby my friend. I owe him.
As atypical JWs and their adversaries flail away, making points and counterpoints, some ridiculous, he has ‘lost it’ only twice to rebuke participants, once to say: “Jeez, you guys are a piece of work!” What could I tell him. That we’re not?
It is so rare for him to chime in that when he does, it is like hearing a voice from On High. The only appreciable difference is that a voice from On High is unlikely to say, “Jeez, you guys are a piece of work.”
Mr. Admin did not take his ill and presently chimed in to say that he was the owner of the overall website, but that it was The Librarian who ran the JW part. This prompted me to add:
If I from time to time poke mild fun at Admin, it is nothing compared to the fun I poke at the Librarian, the old hen. It is riotous.
She really is a Jehovah's Witness, I think, though certainly an avant-guard one. She used to have for a banner an interior photo of a magnificent library; I thought it was the Library of Congress, but she told me it was some university library. It was gorgeous.
Nonetheless, by degrees I have been able to portray her before the world as a petty mean school librarian, who really doesn't like children, but she is too arthritic and just plain tired to do much about it when they misbehave. Moreover, she is frequently on the bottle, and while she knows her pupils are tittering behind her back, and even right in front of her, she spends most of her time counting down the days to her retirement.
The strange thing about all of this is that she is actually a man. No, not a transgendered man; don't even go there. We started this gag long before transgenderism took the world by storm.
The Librarian and I made a deal long ago after she unfairly rebuked me for hawking my first ebook, Tom Irregardless and Me, on her forum. It was inexcusable for her to do this and the only conceivable reason that I can think of to excuse her actions is that I was hawking my first ebook, Tom Irregardless and Me, on her forum. I have been very careful not to ever do this again, which is a shame because it is an excellent ebook, and unlike Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah's Witnesses Write Russia, it is not free. I actually make a buck off it. Maybe no small thing for you, but a big deal for me. Do you have any idea of how my wife goes through money? So crack open your wallet and buy the thing already, will you? As books go, it is not pricey.
The Librarian would scream at me for this, normally. But here I am in her library, her bad boy pupil, but her pupil nonetheless, and she has not shown up for work yet. I think she may have fallen off the wagon once again.
I will link to that exchange here. It will make them both happy. It is just one remark. Scroll up and down if you like, where you will encounter both geniuses and basket cases. Let the reader use discernment.
I got banned at the apostate website! Can you believe it? I was the very personification of respect and good-manners. Of course, I was also the very personification of tenacity, but it was still me against a dozen others. Now that I have been muzzled, it may be me against 100. Cedars worked so hard to get me to engage and as soon as I did, he tossed me out!
Actually, he wanted me to engage on his podcast, where you shoot from the hip. Again and again, he invited me there. I thought a forum in which you can think out your remarks beforehand was better. I put a human face on an outfit he is trying very hard to demonize, and I think that finally took him to his limit.
After making six or eight comments on his site, I found this:
Cedars: “I simply want to present the other point of view,” well, that’s partly true, Tom. You want to present “the other point of view” on your own terms – i.e. by trolling me in comments and tweets. You don’t quite have the guts to come on my YouTube channel for a conversation where you can express “the other point of view” (Watchtower’s point of view, which everyone is already aware of) in front of thousands of people. You’d much rather selectively violate the command to refrain from engaging with apostates as it suits you. Again, I wonder if there are any other commands from your masters “the Slave” regarding which you feel it’s ok to pick and choose? Or is your hypocrisy confined solely to this particular area of Watchtower’s rulebook?”
When I tried to reply, I found I was blocked. There was nothing to do but take it on the Twitter street, where I found the same response:
Cedars: “My point is you are already violating the rules by engaging with me (some would say trolling) on Twitter and my JWsurvey article. You may as well go the whole hog and come on my YouTube channel for an interview if you have something to say, but I doubt you have the backbone.”
Tom: “I don’t. Better thought-out written remarks than shoot-from-the-hip debate. Did I really just get banned at your site? Despite 2 tries, my last reply to you did not stick. All were polite, respectful, and on-topic. None repeated. (1)
“If that is ‘trolling’ it is not like the liar who pretended to be GJ, even tweeting “Pray for our brothers in Russia” before presently revealing he didn’t give a hoot in hell for our brothers in Russia. It was all a ruse to draw in the guileless ones. (2)
“Let me post my blocked remark here and then call it quits for now: “Cedars, if I am misbehaving, you can toss me, and let persons reflect of the irony of that, since you repeatedly asked to me debate in the first place. 'Trolling' is in the eye of the beholder. (3)
“I have not insulted anyone, On the contrary, I have gone out of my way not to on several occasions. For example, when someone here said: 'You calling us liars who exaggerate?' I made clear that I was not. (4)
“On forums where there is a comment section, I have never blocked anyone that I can recall. I would if someone became an abusive and unrelenting pest, but I have not yet had to. (5)
“In debate classes you are given an argument and assigned to take this side and then that. The clear message is that it is technique over substance. Better to write, where one can compose words with thought. Let both points of view be presented honestly, (6)
“Jesus never debated. In fact, he routinely did things that would infuriate devotees of debate. He used hyperbole. He answered questions with counter-questions. He spun involved parables that he rarely explained as a means of reaching the heart. (7)”
Cedars was not impressed with this exchange: “I'm amazed at your continuing excuses for refusing to come on my channel for a conversation (not debate, necessarily) when the real reason is: you are afraid you will be pulled into the backroom by your elders because engaging with apostates online is verboten.”
Tom: “You are young and vigorous. I am older who perhaps must take care that my teeth do not fall out or my cane trip me up. Or like Paul (2Cor10:10) whose letters are weighty but whose personal presence is weak. Or slow of speech like Moses. I believe I did not misrepresent anything (1)
“(2) I disagreed, which is not the same, always respectfully, and stood up for a group that you continually attack without check, and whose similar attacks have resulted in Russian machine guns literally pointed at the heads of some.
“(3) A substantial blow for free speech on a site that purports to celebrate freedom. [I tagged a couple of journalists at this point] Of course, I take no comments on my site either, but in doing so forsake the flood of accolades and attaboys from my chums, which you clearly do not with yours, now as tight as the Russian press.”
He did not take this lying down. There was a flurry of back and forth tweets:
Cedars: “It has nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with you knowingly misrepresenting my views and opinions. You can do that on here as much as you like, but on my website, nope.
“You get only one chance to not misrepresent/twist my words into something other than I meant or intended. You did this at least twice, hence you are blocked from commenting on JWsurvey, so please don't expect sympathy.”
[Did I do that, misrepresent him? He gave two examples, quoting me: [Let the reader use discernment]
1) "Cedars’ outrageous video assertion that elders visit patients in their hospital room to make sure they toe the line on blood policy." - An oversimplification. I am sure some elders visit patients on compassionate grounds, but that is not the sole thinking behind the HLC system.
2) "Cedars assertion that when persons apply for reinstatement they do so just to reestablish social ties" - I never asserted that people only get reinstated to be reunited. I am sure many do so because, like you, they are simply indoctrinated and know no other way of living.
He didn’t like me tying him in with the Russian persecution, either:
Cedars: “You cannot blame me for what's going on in Russia, which I have spoken out against unequivocally. Backward regimes have been persecuting religious minorities long before there was Google or YouTube.”
I declared war on these guys after the three (now four) incendiary anti-Witness articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and I learned that the reporter checked in at one such anti-Witness site between articles, as though he were Trump firing up the base. It is the only reason I would engage: journalists hang out there. Maybe just one, but who can say? One is enough. So I weighed in to offer such ones context that they will not get otherwise. A journalist wants that. It is an abundance of anecdotal evidence at the anti-Witness site, and anecdotal evidence must always be given context so as to mean anything. In a world of 8 billion people, you will find countless examples of anything. There must be context so that you know what you are looking at, and this is what I tried to supply until I was shown the trap door. I mean, it’s his site. He can do what he wants with it. But there is reason to hope no reporter will rely on it solely.
Here is the context I offered, all remarks made on his site before the window slammed shut on my fingers, with introduction in brackets. At every comment, a click on my name would link to a short justification for the disfellowshipping arrangement:
Tom: “In any forum where participants simply reinforce the prevailing view, matters eventually become skewed and inaccurate. So, I add the counterpoint, which I present for consideration and leave it at that. You have been after me for debate since you became aware of my existence, and this is as close as you are going to get. You are correct that Witnesses generally decline debates. Should I debate on your podcast, with all your chums cheering when you land a punch & wincing and doing damage control when I land one, while my chums don’t go in for that sort of thing in the first place? I don’t think so.
“When Kathy Griffin holds aloft the fake severed head of the President, are we to imagine that her Republican dad (if he is) says: ‘That’s my lass! She speaks her mind! It won’t affect holiday family cheer, though’? The example may help to explain how doing a 180 from previously held deeply moral views might cause a rift in the Witness family.
“It has been about a dozen years since the word ‘disfellowship’ has been heard in a Kingdom Hall. Instead, from time to time, an announcement is made that ‘so-and-so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ If he has done a 180 from ‘witnessing for Jehovah’ can anyone say that he is? I can recall no talk or article saying: ‘this announcement means that.’ It hasn’t happened, to the best of my knowledge. It is even said by some on this forum that they are ‘fading’ and no announcement of any sort has been made, yet they still come to feel shunned, whether that word is the accurate description or not in such cases. Adding to the situation is that Witnesses do not celebrate the traditional holidays, occasions where family members customarily regroup, whether they like one another or not, leaving only funerals as the inevitable occasion for gathering.
“The GB does not ‘tell’ people to shun family members. Instead, they say that if one has triggered what would cause separation, there is no reason to say that because he or she is family, that matters are necessarily different. Members apply that counsel as they see fit, but whatever they do, they do not have the sense that someone is telling, much less ordering them, to do so, but that someone alerted them long ago to relevant Bible passages on the subject, after which the Bible passages themselves guide them in what to do, as they consider whatever mitigating circumstances there are in their own family, often finding none, but not inevitably so.
“The idea that Witnesses can turn off love for a family member is incorrect (given that there are variations in families). A separation causes deep pain in those remaining ‘faithful.’ It is not just the departing one who suffers. However, they tell themselves that the family member did bring it own him or herself, that Jesus said his words could cause division in the family, and should that happen, loyalty to God trumps that for even family members. The door that was closed as a last-ditch attempt at ‘discipline’ was never locked and it is always possible to return.
“It is the notion of Christianity as a movement separate from the world, trying to serve as a beacon to it, pointing to something better, that is under attack, especially when people have gone atheist, all the rage today and a marked divergence from all previous history. The concept of ‘separateness’ from the greater world inevitably brings about situations such as the topic of this thread, yet it is a concept integral to Christianity. It is only by staying ‘clean’ that Christians feel able to lend a helping hand to others. I understand that will come across as very self-righteous, but it is not meant that way. Members freely confess that they screw up all the time, but that to the extent they are able to adhere to God’s standards, their lives improve, and their abilities to help others.”
[I apologized subsequently for saying: ‘Many participants here are thinking people,’ which implies that many are not.]
[One participant got ahold of a private elders’ book and waved it as though it was the smoking gun. In fact, it undermined his argument that at the drop of a pin members are dealt with harshly.]
“Though the discipline of the congregation is admittedly rough on those who will not be guided by it (like Saul ‘kicking at the goads’) ones here expand it to make it seem much harsher than it is. Yet when @Maxwell actually quotes an elder’s handbook, (presumably giving it his best shot) he reveals something much less harsh than what he portrays. Elders “counsel and reason,” not exactly the same as “ordering.” In the event that a congregation member does not respond to counsel, he is not thrown on the spit but he “would not qualify for congregation privileges.” Is that not a big ‘Duh’? If you want to enjoy privileges anywhere, you must toe the line more than if you do not reach out for such privileges. “He would not be dealt with judicially” unless there is “persistent” [not occasional] “spiritual association” [not nuts-and-bolts association] or he “openly” criticizes the disfellowshipping decision, thus undermining the method of governance that he signed on for in the first place.
“So it is not so harsh as portrayed. Moreover, it can be avoided, and once incurred, it can be repaired. The ‘crime,’ then, is the congregation’s desire to fulfill the Christian mandate of staying ‘separate from the world,’ the only position from which it feels able to render assistance to those who feel crushed under the latter’s weight. The book ‘Secular Faith – How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics’ attempts to reassure its secular audience through examining the changing moral stands of churches on five key issues. The book points out that today’s church members have more in common with atheists than they do with members of their own denominations of decades past. Essentially, the reassurance to those who would mold societal views is: ‘Don’t worry about it. They will come around. They always do. It may take a bit longer, but it is inevitable.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses have thwarted this model by not coming around. The congregation thinks it important to stick to the values that they signed on for, and they knew from the start God does not work through democracy. In order to preserve this unchanging model, it is necessary to have practices such as under discussion here, which can be tweaked some, as has happened per previous comment, but cannot be abandoned. No one has been able to ‘hold the line’ through decades of time without them.
“Cedars writes that he disapproves of Witnesses being arrested a jailed in Russia and I have no doubt that he means it. However, he disapproves in the same sense that the California arsonist disapproves of the state burning to the ground. One of the driving forces of the ban in that country is one Alexander Dvorkin, who pushes the same ‘anti-cult’ narrative endorsed by Cedars. He pushes it on many groups, not just Jehovah’s Witnesses, though they have been his prime target. He wants to ‘protect’ people by preventing them from hearing ideas that he thinks are ‘socially destructive,’ a goal not unlike some of the goals expressed here. The only difference is that he has seen it more fully accomplished.
“Acting on his prodding sends a clear “open hunting season” on religious minorities. Various human-rights and law experts convened in France in January 2018, where one of them observed of Mr. Dvorkin: He “enjoys disseminating inflammatory narratives and hate speech.” The reason that Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses have not caved under his mischief (which is added to nationalistic and dominant Church pressures) is that they do not see themselves as followers of “eight men,” the meme pushed here, but of the Bible. Acquiescing to the authority of the eight men taking the lead is little more than acquiescing to the authority of the teacher, boss, military leader, coach, parent, or consulted advisor, something that was once routine and unremarkable but is now portrayed as selling out one’s soul.”
[“Because of that you shouldn’t even be welcome here,” someone groused.]
“Andre, Cedars will determine that and I will respect him should he show me the door. Overall, I do respect him, though he is an enemy, for reasons stated above. He slants facts his way, but who doesn’t? He doesn’t make anything up, that I have ever seen, and does not seem to tolerate anyone that does go inaccurate on him.
“It is possible that even my own people will point me to the door, and I do not think that I am above them. They do not “order” me to stay out, as Cedars said (an example of something ‘slanted,’) but there is no question that such participation is not what is advised, by reason of some verses cited and some not yet. To some extent, I am being a ‘bad boy.’”
[Someone misunderstood what I said about disfellowshipping, and I tried to clear it up:]
“Sarah, when I said the word is not heard in the Kingdom Hall for a dozen years or so, I meant an announcement to that effect is not made. The phrase I mentioned, “so and so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses” is the announcement made from time to time. I did not mean to indicate that the word has disappeared from JW vocabulary.”
[A journalist had ambushed one of our people and I addressed that]
“When a person is unexpectedly accosted by a reporter wanting an answer to something that will take more than a sound bite to answer, everyone knows it is a cheap shot. That is not to say they do not cheer if it is an enemy, but they nonetheless know. People are not AI machines. His mind is a million miles away. Still, his discomfiture is inevitably and dishonestly painted as ‘proof’ that he is a flat-out liar. That is why respected sources content themselves with: “So and so was contacted but declined to comment for this article.”
I don’t know if it was a good idea or not. Like Howard Beale, I just got ‘mad as hell and couldn’t take it anymore.’ After every comment there came a torrent of abuse. I changed no one’s mind and was routinely called a hypocrite, sometimes an a*****e. You have to expect this going in and you cannot take it personally. You certainly cannot get into tit for tat, nor should you be so dumb as to say someone does not correctly perceive his or her own experience. How would you know? It is the constant with all anecdotal evidence, which may (not likely) be understated, may be overstated, or may occasionally even be made up. You have no way of knowing, so you ought not touch it. You have to realize going in that you will lose. You must resist your urge to defend the Witness organization. It is perception. Everyone calls the other guy ‘arrogant’ when they cannot get their way. It is all parallel to the incessant Trump/Hillary wars, a development that I consider a godsend for Christians because it demonstrates the applicability of 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Don’t be goaded into losing you’re temper and remember whatever you write remains forever, so you cannot ‘fire first and ask questions later.’ My engagement was all on account of the journalists, and maybe I just fool myself as to how many hang out there. Who can say? At each comment I was reminded that I am ‘ordered’ not to engage and ‘not allowed’ to be there. It turns out that I truly was ‘not allowed’, but not by the nefarious ones that he indicated would do the deed.
[Someone brought up homosexuality. It is the common view today that if you do not accept another person’s tenets you must ‘hate’ that person, and I sought to counter that. Every comment was to counter something and to present a side not otherwise seen:]
Tom: “One can sympathize here [with the plight of gay people who were once members]. I don’t know the answer. JWs do not ‘go after’ gays as do many churches. The 2018 Regional Convention devoted about 2 minutes to it in a video (which created an uproar) in a program lasting three days. Okay? They don’t crusade. And they certainly don’t do what evangelicals do to maneuver politicians into passing laws forcing gays to live as they do. Nor do they go in for simple-minded and abusive practices as ‘conversion therapy.’
“The meme ‘born that way’ becomes the dominant meme by endless repetition. However, the Wt has acknowledged that genetics might play a role. Alternatively, it might be environment, psych endorsement, discredited Freud-type ideas (discredited mostly because they are unpopular) universal gender-bending hormones/plastics in common use, even epigenetics. Who knows? One thing for sure: sexuality has proven far more fluid than anyone of my day would have thought possible.
“The GB likely feels that they have no choice, given what the Bible, their guide to life, tells them. They take it as wisdom from God, who knows us better than we do ourselves. Gays within our ranks do not swim against the current, nor into it, both recipes for disaster. They are prepared to swim parallel to the shore, likely for a long time, in hopes that their urges will eventually realign. One could argue that their faith is stronger than most Christians in that they stick to what they believe is right despite the very real testimony of their own bodies. It hardly seems fair, does it? It is why I have the greatest respect for such ones, who will mostly remain anonymous, and ZERO respect for the frothing church types who rail against gays, as they are demanding the latter lift a load the comparison of which they themselves would not be willing to budge with their little finger.”
[In response to someone who said he thought the organization's days were numbered:]
"Time will tell. The enemies of Jehovah's Witnesses have succeeded in doing what they could never have succeeded in doing alone, putting the Cause before the world. Russia persecution triggers international sympathy. Shunning and child abuse cover-up allegations trigger international frowning. All three are diluted by the fact that there are endless atrocities today to compete for people's limited attention.
"Cover-up allegations and shunning complaints are bad. Invariably they are exaggerated, such as people are wont to do, but they are seldom manufactured. Countering the bad press will be the good things that Jehovah's Witnesses have to offer, things that are never alluded to here.
"A recent development of the Witness organization is self-guided, online Bible study lessons at their website, addressing such age-old questions as 'Why does God permit suffering?' 'What happens when we die?' and 'Is there realistic hope for the future?' Is it only opponents that can use the web? People want such answers. Cedars says (pityingly) in a video that Witnesses 'crave certainty.' Isn't that a big 'Duh'? Anyone here enjoy playing Russian Roulette with their finances or health? The more certainty we can lay hold of the better.
"Will Cedars ask me to leave, as Andre suggested? Maybe, but I don't think so. He strikes me as an honest man. He several times asked me to debate him. If I appear here and behave myself, is it not what he wanted? And if he did ask me to leave, after asking me to engage, surely THAT would indicate something. it is my own people who are more likely to ask me to leave, perhaps even kicking me in the rear end as they do so, and I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. Ironically, should I vanish, people will fuss for some days over whether they lowered the boom or was it Cedars.
"Bible answers are Jehovah's Witnesses' strong suit. Christians are directed in the Bible to stay separate from the greater world, as they offer it a helping hand. Anything with an upside will have a downside. The downside zeroed in on exclusively on this forum is real, but it does not negate the upside. Therefore it depends upon where is your focus. 'Bible education' is the overall goal of the Witness organization, 'preaching the good news,' As the online study sessions demonstrate, with only some exaggeration, if push comes to shove, the essential components of the Witnesses' work can be run out a server in someone's dorm room.
"Meanwhile, going atheist holds some attraction, mostly escaping anyone who would tell you what to do, as though one does not simply put themselves under the 'control' of other deep-pocketed parties telling you what to do, be it Trump, Soros, the Russians, Big Defense, Big Pharma, pro or anti climate change with the enormous economic and lifestyle consequences both bring. Atheism will appeal to some, but never all. The yeartext presumably agreed upon here is: "Sh*t happens. Get used to it. Maybe we can elect the right politicians to fix it." How's that project going, anyway?
"No, that yeartext will just not cut it for everyone."
Don’t misunderstand. I don’t claim to have ‘knocked it out of the park’ on anything. Causes for their disgruntlement remain. You don’t expect to change anyone, just inform anyone new, should they exist.
Maybe I should have gone on his podcast, but I figured it might be like the time, long ago, when I filled in for a school bus driver in a very rough district, and one of the deboarding students spit on me, and then he and all his chums assembled to invite me on their ‘podcast’ just outside the bus. I decided to do like Jesus, who was not even driving a bus, when he was spit upon. ‘But they say that Cedars is very nice in person,’ his buddies told me. Doubtless he would pour me Kool-Aid with a smile to quench my thirst. I never entertained the idea, though I did stretch it out for a while:
Cedars: “Welcome back Tom. Is your personal allowance for engaging with apostates online still only limited to Twitter, or will you be able to join me for a recorded chat on Skype?’ [I had come back. I followed this character in the first place when I discovered he would reliably inform me of things I might want to address. The moment he became aware of me, he wanted me on his show.]
Tom: “As soon as one agrees to a debate, one agrees to the premise that debate is the best way to illuminate things.”
Cedars: “There are lots of ways of illuminating things. Discourse is one way. I had no idea it was a competition.”
Tom: “I have written three books. You have written at least one. Let that be your ‘discourse’ for you.”
Cedars: “I think we both know your reason for declining an interview. It ain't your books.”
[His chums joined in:]
Chum: “Tom why on earth are you in contact with ‘apostates’? Do you think Jah can’t read twitter....and therefore judge you for it?”
Cedars: “Tom has been granted a special exemption that allows him occasional interactions with the "mentally diseased" on Twitter.”
Tom: “It is odd that anyone would mention "mentally diseased" in this context. The quotes are from a 2011 Wt and I posted about it at the time. Alas, I was more wordy then and it is 6 paragraphs in that the term comes up.” [I linked to a post I had previously written, which I have found is a fine way of shaking these guys should they come after you. With one such person (not Cedars) I even served up one that I called my 'troll special.'
Another chum: “Seriously Tom, I’d be bricking it in your shoes! There’s no allowance for chatting with bad sorts (well, Jesus did it, but let’s forget that, and him, eh!).”
[Forgive me if this gets tiresome. I want to assemble everything in one place. Feel free to skip a bit, or chuck it entirely. A bit later:]
Cedars: “Me waiting for @truetomharley to accept my offer of an on-camera interview to discuss his views as a believing JW who doesn't have a problem engaging with apostates on social media.”
Cedars: “BTW Tom, since you're apparently able to bend the rules by interacting with apostates on social media, are you feeling brave enough to go the full nine yards and join me for an on-camera Skype interview? Or does Jehovah's judgment kick in once you appear on camera?”
Cedars: “I'm quite happy to have a civilized discussion in which we agree to disagree. We do have at least some common ground in both opposing Russia's ban of Jehovah's Witnesses.”
Cedars: “…you've already rejected the offer citing some bizarre argument about being an author and not the true reason - that your religion prevents you from conversing with apostates.”
Tom: “Perhaps I am not a good debater.”
Cedars: “It doesn't need to be a debate, just a conversation.”
Tom: “Unfortunately, I am not even good at conversation. “But I said: “Alas, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah! I do not know how to speak, for I am just a boy.” Jeremiah 1:6”
Cedars: “You're not much good at following the rules of the cult for which you are a cheerleader, either.”
Tom: “Many things I am not much good at. More things than not, actually.”
Cedars: “There's simple mistakes and then there's straight up hypocrisy. Either it's "Jehovah's organization" or it isn't. If it is, maybe you should do as you're told and get your acre in paradise.” [Ouch]
Tom: “You say I violate ‘rules’ and yet you would have me violate them further by ‘conversation’? Ha! You just think you can get me into trouble with my own people so that I will sulk and cross over into the Obi-wan Dark Side.”
And now I must face the music from my own side, and there may be some. Cedars’ continual taunts at being ‘not allowed” were surely overdone, and it must have made him feel a little silly when I kept coming nonetheless, until he felt compelled to issue the order himself. Still, nobody here thinks it is the bee’s knees to engage with these characters, and I may hear about it. And they could be right. Maybe I am the yoyo on the Jerusalem wall singing out just when Hezekiah is telling the troops to zip it. But I just couldn’t take it anymore.
The Witness organization probably cannot be expected to defend itself. It takes the scriptural view of Jesus at Matthew 11, noting that grumblers slam him no matter what he does, before finally saying, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ “wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” It is like David who kept mum as ‘all day long they muttered against him.’ ‘It is like the plowman who knows that if you look behind while plowing, the furrows get all flaky.’ They don’t do it. The common view of opposers is that the Witness headship is telling members what to do, while it cynically manipulates all from above. That view is wrong. They practice what they preach and do it themselves.
It is scriptural. It is proper. But there is a downside. By staying mum on specifics, essentially our enemies get to define us to the news media who refer to a cover statement about ‘abhorring child abuse’ as “boiler-plate” and then go to former members who will eagerly fill their ears with accounts that we could counter by adding context but don’t. What’s a reporter to do? He goes to who fills his ears.
The organization headship cites Hebrews 13:7 about ‘imitating the faith of those who are taking the lead among you.’ They don’t go on social media at all. They prefer a less raucous channel, and content themselves with news releases at the website that inform but do not kick back at the critics.
It will fall upon the Witness journalist to do it, if it is to be done, and there aren’t many of them. If fourteen years of blogging, not shying from controversial things, does not qualify me to take a shot at it, what does? Still, one must not be presumptuous.’ I have noted that when anyone self-assumes expertise, they run the risk of becoming full of themselves. Sometimes they take offense that whatever they think they have pioneered is not adopted by everyone else. I try to safeguard against this with evening participation in the door-to-door ministry, often alone. It has a way of instilling humility. As you take note of the response, both favorable and unfavorable, you begin to envision the response that Jesus got. Neglect the door-to-door ministry at your own spiritual peril. Too, I have been sufficiently chastened by various circumstances of life that might be likened by an outsider to having one’s head stuffed in a toilet. Upon extracting that appendage, you do not say, “I guess I taught than toilet a thing or two, didn’t I?” It, too, serves to instill humility.
If you are in a spiritual paradise, or even a vacation paradise, you do not have to concern yourself with removing the trash. It may be even dangerous to do so, because there is broken glass and used syringes. It’s not for everyone, and maybe for no one. But I thought I’d take a shot at it, and I at last got under this fellow’s skin, the big baby.
Trying to seduce the guileless ones, he had said: ‘Pray for our brothers in Russia.’ A noble sentiment, for they are going through hard times. (see 'Russian Legal Update - January, jw.org. Note the restraint and respect our organization shows towards government - a good example) At meetings worldwide, Witnesses this week saw interviews with 12 whose court trial has dragged on for years. They heard of their hardships – emotional, physical, financial – being drained of everything they have simply for following Christ. A child who thinks perhaps both parents will be sent to prison for worshipping God. A grandparent who thinks he will be, once again. 'At 59, it is too much,' he says. A youngster who cannnot hold a job, as his employer cannot accommodate his frequent absences for court. If they can endure as they have they will completely pour themselves out, as early Christians did, as Paul did, as Jesus did.
But now it’s clear he couldn't care less about our brothers in Russia, or their children, for that matter. ‘Kill them all’ as far as he is concerned. It was all a ruse so as to gain the confidence of trusting ones. There wouldn’t be any brothers in Russia were it not for the organization he despises. They would be all captive to the 'house' church, whose daily text every day is ‘take out the competition.’ They would know nothing about the Bible. He would like it that way. I mean, it’s not as if he represents anyone interested in fulfilling the Christian commission to preach and teach.
It may be that the lying scum will delete his tweet now that it has served its purpose. However, there may be some who have followed him from early on – smelling a rat but unclear how bad the stench would be – who have preserved screenshots, someone like me, for example, who can produce it should the time prove right.
Jesus said of his followers: ‘they will hand you over to local courts.’ and ‘you will be put on stands before governors and kings.’ (Matthew 10:17) Why? Because they want to commend you for your fine work? No. It will be so they can hurl accusations at you and you will have to defend yourself, so as to not make Jesus a liar. The more vile the charge the more it will play with those who hate us.
From time to time representatives of God’s organization have been hauled before courts to answer accusations from ‘governors and kings,’ and will no doubt do so in the future. I’ve never seen a hearing, though I have had opportunity. There is such a thing as loyalty. He so desperately wants you to go there - it oozes from his pores. It's his very reason for existence. That alone is reason not to go there. He's not your friend. I will even go so far as to conjecture, in the face of his begging me to watch it, that our guy had a awkward moment. It is possible in the face of a hostile interrogator. Our guy is not Trump or Hillary, who routinely face assassins. He spends most of his time in a supportive atmosphere. Or maybe it's just another ruse - he's not exactly proven himself a Boy Scout. Maybe our guy knocked it out of the park but the bastard will say anything to get me to see his filth.
‘Happy are you when people…lyingly say every sort of wicked thing about you for my sake,’ Jesus said. (Matthew 5:11) Yes. There is indeed ‘every sort of wicked thing’ being said these days. But I’m not sure how happy the slandered brother is about it.
If the Trump/Hillary endless bickering teaches us anything, it is that 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is this world’s year text every year. People are not open to any agreement. They are fierce. They are slanderers. Even ‘truth’ and ‘lies’ are subjective. Everyone has their own. It is as in Isaiah 5:20. People say what is bad is good and what is good is bad. It is not just true in spiritual matters. It is true in every aspect of life today.
‘I am stronger than you. I thank Heaven for it,’ said Miss Pross to the murderous foreign woman who had pulled a knife on her. ‘It’s game on!’ says Sherlock. I am a livid loose cannon pointing at you. I’m tired of their hate. Imagine – hijacking the photo of a decent man so as to malign him and what he represents. ‘Have you no shame?’ said the American U.N. ambassador. Expose them at every opportunity. Litigate them whenever possible. ‘Forgive your enemies,’ my rear end. I’ll forgive them when they’re behind bars for identity theft and slander.
If I should appear to go bad, just as our Bethel brother appeared to go bad, know that my identity has been stolen, just as his was stolen, and it may take a while to straighten it out. It’s a villainous place, that internet.
It's best not to engage with a liar. The way to starve a fire is to withhold fuel. Block him if you like, but definitely report him. On his page, the Twitter toolbox will have a 'Report' option. The sub-menu will say 'they're being abusive or harmful.' The next sub-menu will say 'they're impersonating you or someone else.'
‘Tom Irregardless and Me’ 30% free preview
Your opening gambit must always be: everyone online is a liar. How can you possibly know who's who? Anyone can pretend to be anyone. Anyone can use anyone else's photo. He'll be found out eventually but in the meantime you must be 'social network smart'
If a GB member was online, he would not include GB in his username , for the phrase does not belong to him alone. He would also not do it without printed or web material stating beforehand he was using a new channel of communication. He would not change his username like a snake - probably to keep one step ahead of whoever. A cover frame on a video is no guarantee as to what's inside. They do indeed have to fend off many accusations. 'Fake News' is a huge topic in the news today and it is seemingly everywhere. One would think deliberately impersonating and defaming another would be punishable by law.
The Internet is not the congregation. You can't have your own personal congregation there. Where is the channel for spiritual food? Where are the elders? Where are the trusted people you know? So anyone you do not know personally you must assume are liars. To be safest, you friend only those you know. For better or for worse, I will friend brothers I don't know. As long as they behave, they remain friends, for an internet friend and a real friend is not the same. But I don't quickly trust them and what trust I do extend can be withdrawn in a second, for I can't possibly know them as I would somebody in my congregation.
What do the verses say?
'We ask you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be alarmed either...by a letter appearing to be from us' 2 Thes 2:2. Somewhere there is an article about not jumping to conclusions regarding ones who have earned trust. Somebody find it.
'The thief does not come unless it is to steal or to slay or to destroy' John 10:10
This is a fine (at present and so far as I know - to the extent it is correct, it may have been updated) online resource
It's probably well not to speak with a liar. Do not think others have not done so. With someone not a liar you can discuss and persuade, but not with a liar. Witness discussions online about anything - politics, for example. People do not patiently hear the other side out and weigh the issues. No. They are like football fans. They cheer when the home team scores a point. They wince when it incurs a penalty or suffers injury. But at no point do they suppose the other side is anything more than evil incarnate.
Tom Irregardless and Me. 30% free download.
Two dogs are pecking away on their keyboards, very intense. One says to the other, with much enthusiasm, “On the internet, no one knows you're a dog!” Yeah! That's the trouble with the internet. You never quite know where anything is coming from. A laureate or a liar? A psalmist or a sorehead? A philanthropist or a philanderer? It's hard to tell. Maybe that's why Awake! is....shall we say...reserved in it's endorsement of the online world, even citing that old New Yorker cartoon about the dogs.
However, I spotted a dog on the internet when nobody else did, so I'm unusually full of myself these days....even though 'pride comes before a fall.' I spotted the dog, and now I'm going to put a muzzle on it, or at least try to.
Someone sent me a Peanuts strip from 1965, a strip that's all over the internet lately. They thought I would agree with the caption....and in fact, I do. But I also smelled a rat. See if you can, too.
Okay. Got it? A little anti-Christmas, wouldn't you say? Now, you may (or may not) agree with the wording here, but it sure doesn't ring true to what Charles Shultz was about, does it? Would he really have authored such a strip? I don't think so. Even though Linus is indeed a know-it-all windbag, even though he does quote scripture from time to time, even though he is well-versed on theological things. But it doesn't fit. So I poked around some. It took a while, but I found the source of the smell. The strip has been doctored! In the enlarged frame, those first two speech bubbles are genuine, but the last one has been modified. Here's the original:
Now, I don't think Charles Shultz would like this. Bitten by one of the dogs on the internet! You ought to be able to write your own comic strip without some smug little snot of a propogandist replacing your words with his. You understand, I don't have a problem with the modified words in themselves. What they say is not untrue. It's attributing them to Shultz that burns me up, because he would never have penned such a thing. Write your own strip! Rejection of Christmas on account of it's non-Christian origin may ring true with us, but religious folk in general have no problem with it. Part of our 'rich diversity,' and all.
If you use someone's work as underpinning to your own, you keep the two separate. It's not only ethical to do that, it's also practical. Your whole case crumbles when someone spots that you've built upon a fraud. Don't do it. Go out of your way to make clear you don't do it. Just like when the Watchtower used to quote evolutionists saying things that undermined their own dogma...I mean, they were perfectly accurate quotes...but then grousers would accuse us of misrepresenting those luminaries, so the Watchtower took to pointing out, whenever using so-and-so's words, that these folks nonetheless believed in their own theories...they weren't jumping ship to endorse creation. I don't think it was necessary, but I appreciate why they did it: to avoid even the appearance of misrepresentation. (It didn't satisfy the grousers, however)
Or when the translators of the New World Translation refused to translate Ps 22:16 as “they have pierced my hands and feet” even though they agreed such a rendering would perfectly fit Christ Jesus' role. They refused to do it because the underlying manuscript evidence was dubious. Few other translations had such scruples. Whatever you do, do it honestly. Don't fudge facts to fit your agenda.
Although, having said that.... I can think of one exception. Nothing's absolute. For the life of me I cannot condemn Nick Regalia for altering the work of another when he first became a JW. See, Nick was trying to clean up his life at the time, so he drew bathing suits on all the posters of naked women at his workplace! Lemme tell you, he was none too popular for a while. Of course, this was many years ago. Today, he'd be doing those artists a favor, saving their jobs, probably, since sexual harassment laws will get you into a lot of hot water now and displays of porn can easily trigger them.
But Charles Shultz didn't do porn. He did Peanuts. And Peanuts was (and is) one of my favorite strips. So if someone sends you that phony strip, send it right back with the notation that it's a fraud. You can't undo matters completely. Once toothpaste is out of the tube, you just can't put it back it. It remembers how tight it was in there, and it just won't go. But we can at least be on the right side of the fray.
Now.....who might have done such a thing....altering Shultz's work to paste in his own anti-Christmas tirade? Oh please please please.....let it not be one of our people! We might forward the strip to our pals, thinking it's genuine. How would a person know? But...no....don't let it be that one of ours originated it. I don't think anyone would, we don't usually stoop to such tricks, but.....um...well....I mean...........look, there's nothing about Bible teachings or JW beliefs that make a person fanatical or unbalanced. There isn't. Bible teachings, when applied, mold a person for good. However, if you already have an unbalanced fanatical bent to your personality, then you've found a home among us. Overbearing excess will be chalked up to commendable zeal, and even though your fellow brothers may roll their eyes a bit, they'll put up with it, knowing that, most likely, you'll balance out eventually. So I was a little worried that some brother might have done this, probably some firebrand kid.
Ahhhh.....good! It's not us. It's some 'Jews for Jesus' type character, as near as I can tell. Here's the site. Note how he admits, in fact even boasts about, changing that last panel. Now, the next step is, if it lands in your inbox, send it back.
The reason I smelled a rat is because I knew that Charles Shultz was not against Christmas. And 1965....the date of that strip? That's the year that the first of many Charlie Brown Christmas specials was released on television. I remember the program. That's why it's good to have some years on you. No young person could be expected to spot this fraud. But an old buzzard like me, who's been around awhile, can nail it, and I did!
In fact, I begin to suspect that even the strip I took as original, from which that bastardized phony strip was derived......even that strip is a fraud. I snared one dog on the internet, only to find a whole pack of them is on the loose! I'm not sure, but I suspect it. Alas, I have to leave it to someone else to figure that one out, preferably someone with one of those monstrous anthologies of Charlie Brown comic strips and the time required to comb through every page. It's not easy catching dogs, and for now I'm content with one.
I suspect the "original" is also phony because, in that 1965 Christmas special, windbag Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas to poor Charlie Brown, and he does it merely by quoting scripture! Luke 2:8-14. Those are verses about Jesus' birth. He doesn't say anything at all about 1) Jesus wasn't born on that day, 2) Jesus never said anything about celebrating his birth, anyway, or 3) the customs associated with with the celebration of Christmas all stem from non-Christian roots. Peanuts creator Charles Shultz gravitated to the sentimental traditional meaning of Christmas, period. The other stuff didn't bother him. And both the strips I've reproduced are set as in a show production, with stage curtain as backdrop.....as if satirizing a television production!
Yeah!! I'm hot on the scent now! But I'm also worn out. That first dog took a lot out of me. The bitch bit me bad as I tried to muzzle it!! So I'm just going to lay out what I have here as a work in progress, for now, and pursue the rest in an upcoming post.
He's a smart fellow, Sean Carroll is, author of The Making of the Fittest. Nobody here is saying otherwise. I've said kind things about his book, for the most part, and may in time say more. But.....hang it all.....how come he can't spell deniers? He takes aim in the latter portion of his book at those who deny evolution, and again and again he misspells the word. It's not d-e-n-y-e-r-s! It's d-e-n-i-e-r-s! Any schoolboy knows this. Why doesn't he?
Check it in your shelf dictionary. Check an on-line dictionary. Check a Scrabble dictionary; if anyone can stretch a word for acceptable spelling variations, it will be a Scrabble player. Google the odd spelling, if you like. It doesn't matter where you check. One who denies something is a denier, not a denyer! Let's be honest. You can't read that word without thinking...... “den'-yer? 'What the heck is that?”
Well, maybe denyer is the British spelling of the term (notwithstanding that Carroll hails from Wisconsin).....I admit I'm grasping at straws. We all know Brits can't spell properly, just as they can't pronounce properly. Or maybe, in that rarefied scientific world Sean inhabits, they have dispensed with plebian spellings, in favor of lofty revisions more appropriate to their scientific status. Or maybe it's a deliberate misspelling....his attempt at tweaking the idiots...those, in his view, who do deny evolution. But that seems a bit mean-spirited, and I don't think he's that kind of guy. Plus, it seems an inside joke that even most insiders would miss. Or.....you don't suppose that Carroll's quirky spelling is just an application of his own theory? Has the 'i' mutated into a 'y'?
None of these hypotheses make much sense. They're all lame. And don't misunderstand. It's just spelling. It's not that big of a deal. It really isn't. But....blast it all....IT IS! It's like the pebble in my shoe that doesn't seem big at first, but drives me crazy (is that the purpose?) the more I walk on it. Sean Carroll's been to college. And grad school. And doctorate school. How come he doesn't know to spell? And what about his editors? What good are they if they can't catch something so blatant? The Ministry School guidebook counsel keeps nagging at me: if you are incorrect in some detail, no matter how obscure or irrelevant, invariably someone will pick up on it and say “huh......he doesn't know that?” And from there it's just a tiny hop to “Maybe he doesn't know anything else, either.”
When I go to his web page, I see he introduces himself with the same Michael Ruse snippet with which I introduced him: “Of all the scientists in the world today, there is no one with whom Charles Darwin would rather spend an evening than Sean Carroll.” That means he thinks like me (or I like him). I tell you, I come to like this fellow more and more. And evolution books like his written post genome mapping advance their case in a powerful way. Why mess it up with a spelling blunder that any orangutan would get right? This makes no sense at all.
Ah well, Sheepandgoats, get over it. Figure it's a mystery. Like the Trinity. Just accept it.
Okay, I will. Enough said.
But it's hard to just get over it because he repeats the error so many times! Carroll likens his book to a full course meal, served in courses (not unlike how Jehovah's Witnesses are apt to describe their meetings as “spiritual meals,” their assemblies as “spiritual feasts!”). His after-dinner dessert conversation, it turns out, consists of a strategy session on how to counter the denyers, some of whom (gasp!) are to be found within his own ranks: “There are some individuals with scientific credentials who doubt or deny certain elements of evolutionary science that are widely accepted by the scientific community; some may even doubt the entire theory,” he observes. “But getting a doctoral degree and making negative arguments are relatively easy – making new, verifiable discoveries is an altogether different matter. The denyers specialize is rhetoric and the mining of quotes, not in laboratory research. (pg 218)
I'm not so sure I agree with his premise. Even if making “negative arguments” really is “relatively easy,” that does not mean those arguments are not useful. Must everyone be out turning over rocks and growing stuff in petri dishes? Is there not a place for someone to review the conclusions of the discoverers, much as attorneys review evidence collected by the police? They don't just accept police conclusions. Frankly, whenever folks are running herd-like in any discipline, the arguments of those who oppose are always worth looking at closely. You don't just sneer at them because they are the minority.
I'll bet he's taking aim primarily at Michael Behe, king of all the denyers with scientific background, who was even interviewed by Awake! magazine back in September 2006. Behe certainly has “scientific credentials,” and he “doubt[s] or deny[s] certain elements of evolutionary science that are widely accepted by the scientific community.” Behe doesn't doubt that the mechanics of evolution took place, and are taking place still. He has no problem with mutation and gene duplication and fossilized genes. It's hard to have a problem with these since scientists today can grow goo and slime and algae, life forms which reproduce very quickly, and can track each and every gene. They can spot which ones reproduced faithfully, and which ones did not. They can spot which ones build with successive generations, and which ones do not. They can then compare with the genomes of prior life forms and try to piece together how evolution has progressed through generations.
Michael Behe endorses all of this. He simply maintains it doesn't add up to what Carroll and most others say it adds up to, that there's an edge.....the “Edge of Evolution,” per the title of his 2007 book..... beyond which pure Darwinian randomness cannot carry developing life. Follow along on his own blog as he discusses research of the day. It's interesting stuff.
And...man...is he ever castigated for not holding the party line! His book, critics rail, is a blatant attempt to bypass scientific peer review! He takes his case directly to the unwashed masses, unlearned dolts who are in no way qualified to render an opinion! No such objection is made to Carroll's own books, since his represents the majority view. Now, you know I'm going to be sympathetic to Behe's position, since it is much like Jesus' position. Jesus didn't first present his case to religious leaders of his day to secure their prior approval, since he knew their only interest would be to shoot it down. He went over their heads, directly to the common people. And did he ever catch heat from those leaders! Listen to them grouse (and note their contempt for the regular folk):
"Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees [us] has put faith in him [Jesus], has he? But this crowd that does not know the Law are accursed people."
Look what happens when one of their number....a first-century Behe counterpart?.....breaks ranks:
Nicodemus, …..who was one of them, said to them: “Our law does not judge a man unless first it has heard from him and come to know what he is doing, does it?” In answer they said to him: “You are not also out of Galilee, are you? [a big-city Jerusalem slur against the stupid bumpkins from the rural hills of Galilee] John 7:48-52
But there's another point Carroll makes, a point that dovetails very well for Jehovah's Witnesses, though not at all for the fundamentalists (which we are not). I'll lead off with it in a future post.
By the way, Sean B Carroll is not to be confused with Sean M Carroll, a scientist atheist to the core, even though he doesn't fly the Atheist Scarlet A on his blog, perhaps out of respect for Nathaniel Hawthorne. I don't know if Sean B is atheist or not. He doesn't say. Although both are accomplished science writers in overlapping fields, a more dissimilar looking pair you've never seen.
[edit: 1/20/2012, interview between National Republic's John McWhorter and Michael Behe. Sean Carroll & his work comes in for mention, around the 11-12, 22-24 minute marks. He's a nice guy, Behe says.]
[edit update here]